Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Painting Faces

To complement the step by step guides (and by popular request) here's a page dedicated to faces, if there's anything you'd like to ask please feel free to comment and I shall answer you as best I can.

I have used a Pro Gloria Miniatures figure as their faces are so expressive and easy to paint. The paints are from the Wargames Foundry paint system.

Though I have not done so to completion in these images I generally paint all flesh areas at the same time. For better emphasis on the subject I have elected to keep all other parts of the figure in undercoat.

1. 2.

Step 1. Black undercoat - nothing too special here, you can find more discussion about my preference for a black undercoat in the painting step by step guides. Just make sure you have it nice and even and no details are obscured.

Step 2. Shade tone - using a size O artists brush, neatly apply the flesh shade tone to the face, be careful to leave areas of black in the eyes, open mouth and any other prominent folds, don't worry too much if you obscure any fold as the next stage should correct it.

3. 4.

Step 3. Wash - mix a wash of;

1 part Scarlet shade
2 parts Bay Brown shade
2 parts water

and apply liberally to the the face, allow to dry fully - a few minutes, make a cup of tea !

These proportions are my base, sometimes I use less water or a little less brown, do whatever works for you but the main thing is that it should be opaque enough to allow any folds which are in black to still show.

Step 4. Re-shade - it my feel counter-intuitive but very neatly apply the flesh shade tone again with the size O artists brush, this time neatness really counts so have a steady hand and take it nice and easy. I find that the wash gently blurs the tone from black to flesh rather than just having folds in a stark black with little grading.

I generally start with the eyebrows, then upper and lower eye lids in that order - you might want to use a finer brush for those.

I then do the bottom of the nose, making sure that there is a line at each side to define the nostrils, the bridge of the nose is done next with a very fine line of shade showing between the bottom of the nose and the eyebrows.

Next comes the top lip - left then right with a line of shade showing in the middle.

Spreading out I then paint each cheek, leaving a line of shade where these meet the top lip and lower eye lid.

You should then have a small area at each side of the face just below the eyebrows and extending to the ears, paint these in, leaving a line of shade where they meet the cheek and eyebrows.

Last comes the chin, in one stroke or you can do it left then right leaving a shade in the middle for a more macho look.

It is important that you leave the lower lip in the shade colour.

5. 5.

Step 5. Mid Tone - In the same order as step 4, very neatly and sparingly apply the mid tone Flesh 5B to the face. At this stage it is important to remember that you are not simply over-laying colour but highlighting the shade tone, the photographs above are both of this mid-tone phase so that you can better appreciate this.

Note how I have applied the mid tone in highlight at the bottom of the nose leaving a fine line in the middle to represent cartilage.

I have also only applied this tone to the very top of the lower eyelid and in narrow lines at each side of the eyes to represent crows feet or tension (he is marching into battle!).

The top lip is highlighted in two narrow bands and there's no highlight at the sides.

The cheeks each have a single long line of highlight and below and under the eyes are smaller lines of highlight.

The top row of teeth are painted at this stage with a fine brush in Canvas shade 8B - teeth aren't white - unless you want a Hollywood look to your figures !

Lastly, the chin has a light highlight over the shade tone. Again the lower lip is left untouched.


Stage 6. Highlight - We're almost there, very sparingly apply a narrow highlight of Flesh light to the bridge of the nose, eyebrows and chin - ensure that you are highlighting the mid tone and not over laying it.

Stage 7. Lower lip - You can finish at stage 6 if you like and in a way it will depend upon how much Scarlet you used in the wash mix but for some extra definition apply a very sparing thin band of Madder Red Shade tone to the lower lip.

So there you go, I hope I have explained that in easy to follow terms. One thing you may have noticed is that I have not painted the eyes. This very much depends as to whether they are sculpted on the miniature - as opposed to just being the gap in between the upper and lower eyelids. I rarely do paint them in as it's just a style I've developed I guess, though for commanders I do try and make the effort as shown here;

If you want to paint the eyes do so after the wash stage before you re-apply the shade. As with the teeth I use Canvas mid tone in a narrow almond shape for each eye and then very carefully add a dot for the centre.

I hope this is useful to you.



  1. Excellent - I shall try aspects of this.

  2. Those Paul Hick's expressions look a joy to paint.
    Really excellent tutorial Stuart - do you ever paint the eyes?

    1. Thanks Simon, I generally don't paint the eyes of rank & file figures but most commanders and any unique figures usually tend to get the extra attention.

  3. Really excellent Stuart. A great "how to" guide - very useful.

  4. Thank you, very thorough and inspiring. Many minis ahead before getting a modest resemblance to your superb work :-)